5 Tips to Declutter Your Home Before An International Move

This weekend we were at home a lot because our car was being repaired. While our move is still quite a few months away (6 month extension approved, yay!), we did take a few first declutter steps. Oh, the stuff that we found hiding in our outside storage… It is not our intention to check out of Brunei already, but tidying now will hopefully save us some hassle when we do move. Here are some tips:

5 Tips to Declutter Your Home Before Moving

Tip 1: Ask yourself: Does This Spark Joy?

In our last move from Beijing to Brunei, Japanese Tidying Guru Marie Kondo’s book really helped me to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. Her principles are quite straightforward, the first one being:

-Does this item spark joy?

Ask yourself this question for every item in your home. Prepare to be surprised at what you will move and leave behind.

Tip 2: Create some order in your tidying process

Marie Kondo also has a good system for tidying, starting with clothes and books and ending with personal items. Instead of tackling stuff by room, she declutters by category, leaving the sentimental items until last. However, it seems the existence of outdoor storage and an avalanche of kids toys are not something commonly found in Japanese homes.

As we still have time before our move, we decided to start with our outdoor storage. This is so well locked that I hardly ever open it anymore. Among the items I found were bikes that my kids had outgrown and brand new flower pots, that I bought before I knew that our lovely helper would arrive with her own private plant collection. (Apparently, Philippine helpers in Brunei use plants as an emergency fund. They sell the plants when in need of emergency cash).

So, create some order in your tidying process. You could start with areas that you don’t use much such as storage rooms and guest bed rooms if you start in time, or take a category like books (I know, it doesn’t feel right to part with books but it does help to contain the clutter).

Tip 3: Is it worth moving this item across the world?

There are so many items we move around the world just because we own them. Or because “it might come in handy one day.” As we still do not know where we will end up after this, it is tempting to say “oh let’s hold on to that camping gear in case we move to Oman” or “let’s hold on to these ice skates in case we move back to the Netherlands.”

However, chances are that the tent is too flimsy for the Oman climate and the ice skates are rusty from staying in the outdoor storage. A good guideline for stuff: what are the chances you will use this item in the next 12 months and how easy/costly is it to replace it?

Tip 4: Schedule time to declutter and admin stuff


Confession: I do not like tidying very much. This usually leads me to procrastinate until right before the move. Spoiler alert: it usually ends in a frenzied scramble and the thought “It will fit in the container so I’ll see it when we get there and then decide what to do with it.”

Nah. At the other end you will be busy unpacking and wondering why the hell you shipped that stuff in the first place. So, schedule time for decluttering now and doing admin stuff (such as transferring your money out of the country) now instead of having to do it all at the very end.

Tip 5: Check the opening hours of the local recycle organisation/ charity

In some of my previous declutter attempts, discarded items got stuck in purgatory, aka the pantry. Invariably, the kids would discover what I planned to get rid of and smuggled it back into the house. Declutter fail! So, check when the local charity is open and what items they take, immediately put items on your local expat Facebook page etc. Get rid of items immediately.

–> What is your Top Declutter Tip? Please put it in the comments or on my Facebook page


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